Organisations and associations promoting liberal arts in Europe and beyond – Launching 3.b

Organisations and associations promoting liberal arts in Europe and beyond

It has been almost 6 months now since the European Liberal Arts Initiative was launched and we are still keen on expanding our database which sits at the heart of ELAI. Today, we are launching a completely new category: organisations promoting liberal arts education in Europe.

So far, ELAI database has only included universities offering a liberal arts programme of studies (1.a, 1.b, 2.a, 2.b) or institutions that offer curricular innovations directly inspired by liberal arts ideals (3.a). However, equally important there is a number of organisations and associations that promote liberal arts throughout Europe and beyond. They are reaching beyond single institutions and countries (sometimes continents) with the aim of creating networks between different stakeholders, sharing and broadening the experience of people involved in liberal arts, and of course engaging in discussions about new forms of (undergraduate) higher education. And as everything in the liberal arts scene in Europe, they vary in definitions of what liberal arts is, ambitions, scope of activities, and age, to name just a few.

The following list includes all organisations and associations invested in liberal arts in Europe, and is, as of today, also included in our database.

AAL - Artes Liberales Academy
Based in Poland: The Artes Liberales Academy (Polish abbreviation: AAL) draws from the experience of the Collegium of Interdepartmental Individual Studies in the Humanities of the University of Warsaw (Kolegium MISH, est. 1993). AAL targeted Polish academic community and especially those whose broad interests in the humanities cannot be satisfied in the traditional system of studying one academic discipline. AAL network promotes the establishment of MISH colleges at public universities (total 8 so far), offering individually tutored inter-university study programmes (since 2011 only on a PhD-level).

ACA - Academic Cooperation Association
Based in Belgium: The Academic Cooperation Association (ACA) is a federation of national organisations from Europe and beyond, which all fund and encourage the internationalisation of their higher education systems. Acting as an advocate of internationalisation world-wide, ACA offers these actors a European multilateral platform for cooperation, the development of long-lasting partnerships, and innovation in higher education. In 2014, they have launched a seminar on liberal arts and sciences within their “European Policy Seminars” series, called “Improving undergraduate education in Europe: liberal arts and science colleges”.

East-Central European School in the Humanities (MSH)
Based in Poland: The East-Central European School in the Humanities was founded in 1996 in the framework of Polish-Ukrainian university cooperation. Its long-term goal is to create a network of co- organizers, which would include also Baltic States, Belarus (depending on the political situation), Bulgaria and other countries of Eastern and Central Europe. The purpose of the School is to disseminate modern theories and methodologies in the humanities and, primarily, to support the development of a new generation of scholars in disciplines particularly neglected in East-Central Europe (mainly in the areas of the former Soviet Union) and fundamental for the revival of the humanities after the communist rule. It is primarily a research network, but MSH is also organising thematic symposia and workshops for faculty and students, in the post-Soviet space

ECOLAS - European Colleges of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Based in Slovakia: The consortium of European Colleges of Liberal Arts and Sciences (ECOLAS) is a non-governmental educational consulting group. Founded by experienced leaders of European Liberal Arts programmes, ECOLAS seeks to support and network between individual institutions with the aim of promoting a policy change toward the liberal arts model in Europe. Along those lines, ECOLAS has run EU-funded research projects as well as offered Julie Johnson Kidd Travel Fellowship.

ELAN - European Liberal Arts Network
Based in Germany: The European Liberal Arts Network (ELAN) is an interdisciplinary network of European Higher Education Institutions designed to promote the mobility of students and scholars in the field of Arts and Humanities. ELAN member institutions grant students a special certificate for extra-curricular activities, internships, exchange programmes and the like. They do so to promote and disseminate the ideals of a Liberal Arts education.

GALA - Global Academy of Liberal Arts
Based in the UK: The Global Academy of Liberal Arts (GALA) is a worldwide network of creativity spanning national and cultural boundaries to broaden the experience of students and staff. Founded in 2014, GALA brings staff and students together from several institutions around the world with seven of them situated in Europe, one in Russia, four in the US and four more in China, Taiwan and Australia. Their aim is to to explore the relationship between creativity and social engagement through teaching and research collaborations and an annual meeting. Activities include joint programme development, comparative research, student exchange, remote teaching, joint student projects and visiting lectures.

GLAA - Global Liberal Arts Alliance
Based in the US: The Global Liberal Arts Alliance (GLAA) is a multilateral partnership of equals intended to strengthen education in the liberal arts and sciences. GLAA aims at      allowing institutional leaders to address common issues that all liberal arts institutions, irrespective of location in Europe, the US and beyond, confront in their quest to operate effectively and to prepare students to be engaged and contributing citizens. They strive to develop the expertise of faculty members and administrators, augment academic and nonacademic programmes, improve the manner in which colleges operate, and enhance the success of Alliance institutions. GLAA promotes international understanding and enhances discussion concerning the economic, political, social, intercultural and other challenges facing societies where Alliance colleges are located

UCDN - University Colleges Deans of the Netherlands
Based in the Netherlands: The Deans of the Dutch University Colleges together form the University Colleges Deans Network (UCDN) that meets on a regular basis for discussing points of joint interest. The UCDN initiates and supports joint branding of the Dutch University Colleges, both nationally and internationally, including cooperation in marketing and recruitment. In 2017 UCDN launched a survey of University College alumni in the Netherlands with more than 2.200 responses. The results out of that are yet to come.

UCSRN - University College Student Representatives of the Netherlands
Based in the Netherlands: The UCSRN – University College Student Representatives of the Netherlands – is the national student representative body for University College students and the only umbrella institution of liberal arts student organisations. It is is a platform for collaboration and co-operation between the different student associations and academic councils of the University Colleges (UCs) in the Netherlands: AUC, EUC, LUC, UCM, UCR and UCU. As an educational association, the UCSRN strives to formally represent the voice of University College students and to create a gateway to the community of 4.000 UCSRN students. The UCSRN aims to promote the accessibility of education at its various colleges to students from many different backgrounds as well as diversity within the curriculum and student-organised projects.

As far as we know right now, more networks are yet to come (especially in the UK). If you think we might have missed a relevant player in the field, please feel free to email us. We also welcome information about initiatives or associations that might no longer be operating. Also, when it comes to student organisations beyond UCSRN, we are planning to feature them in a future blog post.  

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